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Bush is moving the wrong way on Cuba policy

Re: Bush takes hard line against Cuba, July 14.

On Friday, President Bush made it clear he intends to continue fighting the Cold War, not against Russia or China, and not against Vietnam, but against the tiny island that lies 90 miles off Key West.

On behalf of his rich pals in Miami, Bush is pushing a bankrupt Cuba policy that violates the Geneva Convention and has been overwhelmingly opposed for nine consecutive years in votes before the U.N. General Assembly. The latest vote was 167-3 against the U.S. embargo.

Bush's Orwellian pronouncement calls the Cuba sanctions a "moral statement" and declares that it is "wrong to prop up a regime that routinely stifles all the freedoms that make us human." Apparently, the only "freedom" that "makes us human" is the freedom to make obscene profits through exploitation and plunder. Otherwise, perhaps the United States would have an embargo against the dictatorships of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where there is no freedom of religion and where women cannot even drive cars, never mind vote. But these regimes deposit their money in the right banks, sell "their" oil to the right transnationals and provide a base for the U.S. war machine. Thus "democracy" is not an issue.

Bush has further expressed his contempt for democracy and for the U.S. Constitution by saying his administration intends to clamp down on those U.S. citizens now visiting Cuba, who allegedly are traveling "under the guise of permitted pro-democracy cultural exchanges." My personal response to this threat will be to continue supporting anti-embargo groups, to continue traveling to Cuba without applying for permission and to continue urging others to see Cuba for themselves.

How much longer are we going to put up with this policy, which is costing the people of Cuba and the people of Florida so dearly? Americans can travel to Vietnam and China as tourists, and conduct business there should we choose to. But in the case of Cuba, we're told we have no rights our government is bound to respect.

Restoring trade relations with Cuba and our freedom to travel is long overdue. Urge Florida's senators and members of Congress to support legislation to normalize relations with Cuba.

Michael Canney, St. Petersburg

Greed rules

Re: Bush takes hard line against Cuba.

Does anyone out there know the difference between "good" communism and "bad" communism? George Bush and his corporate buddies do. Both Cuba and China have the worst human rights records imaginable. For years the American government has been trying to make Fidel Castro look like a heavy in the eyes of the world.

Oddly enough, our meddling (the embargo) has had the opposite effect. It has made him look like a hero to his people and to those in other countries. He has been able to say that Cuba's miseries are the fault of the Americans and not a result of the communist system or his ideals.

In the meantime, good ol' corporate America has found a way to make up for all the bucks they're not making in Cuba and have decided to suck up to the Chinese for new markets. Greed rules.

Have you tried to buy clothes or any other goods lately that don't say "Made in China"? Get used to it. We were even going to have them make clothes for our Army.

Robert Dalzell, St. Petersburg

Protect our rights against the U.N.

Re: Tighten global arms restrictions, editorial,

July 13.

I congratulate President Bush for his stance on the nefarious U.N. assault on the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of this country. He is doing the job he was elected to do (regardless of the protests of the liberal media). Undersecretary of State John Bolton only delivered the message we, the people, wanted sent to the United Nations.

Where does the United Nations get off trying to deliver backdoor gun control to this country? If you think the U.N. mandate only concerns machine guns and rocket launchers, think again. Read the "treatise." It also includes provisions for the sale and possession of handguns, and provides ideas for registration and confiscation.

If U.N. officials want real world peace, they could set up shop in Russia, China, Iran or Iraq and wail long and loud about the plight of the children. Why should we, the people, give up our rights for the sake of a global government?

Our rights and our guns set us apart from the rest of the world, and some people are jealous of that.

I will protect my rights as fiercely as possible within the legal restraints afforded me by my Constitution. If the rest of the world thinks we are barbaric because of our stance on the right to self-defense, too bad. If the rest of the world thinks we are barbaric because of our death penalty, too bad.

You blame the NRA for spoiling the utopian landscape. The NRA is only a few million compared to the number of gun owners in this country. You would have us believe that 4-million members control the minds of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. I don't think it's just the NRA. I think it's also the rest of the gun owners voicing their opinions to their representatives as to their wishes as citizens of this country _ not this world.

Don Dickson, St. Petersburg

FAC is saving money for taxpayers

Re: A contaminated process, July 1.

Your editorial charging the Florida Association of Counties with accepting a bribe was appalling, offensive and an unwarranted assault on a respected, 72-year-old non-profit association.

FAC met with national election system suppliers for one reason: to save taxpayers' money. We used the collective purchasing power of Florida's 67 counties to negotiate favorable terms and prices with an election systems vendor. Your own July 4 article reported that FAC's action means significant discounts, extended warranties and free training for counties choosing the company.

Are the counties required to buy from this company? Not at all. In a memo, we encouraged our members to consider this vendor _ hardly the interference you decried. Will FAC be involved in the purchases? Of course not. We've recommended a state-certified and qualified company offering big discounts. Counties will make their own purchasing decisions.

Yes, FAC will receive a small fee from the company's sales. And again, you reported it wrong. Your own reporter Steve Bousquet confirms that when FAC's executive director, Mary Kay Cariseo, said, "We have to pay the bills," she was talking about the FAC's members _ Florida counties _ having to pay the bills for new election systems. Hence the importance of pooling purchasing power.

A bribe? That's as ridiculous as saying public universities accept bribes when they are paid for endorsing private events and merchandise. Endorsement fees in the private sector might be considered good business. Receiving a fee for saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars might be considered good citizenship.

Karen T. Marcus, president, Florida Association of Counties,

Tallahassee

Beware animal rights propaganda

Re: July 9 letters in response to the July 2 article, From the fast lane to greyhound heaven.

Animal rights extremists are gearing up their attack on greyhound racing, to judge from recent letters to the editor stating that some 20,000 greyhounds are put to death each year. They know they can't sell their extreme agenda by telling the truth, so they resort to other means _ in this case, lies and misinformation.

The groups that oppose greyhound racing don't want the public to know that more than 75 percent of all racing greyhounds find adoptive homes or return to the farm at the end of their racing career. They don't want people to know that greyhound racing has invested more than $7-million over the past few years to promote greyhound adoption through track-based programs or volunteer community organizations from one end of this country to the other.

And they surely don't want people to know that their agenda is much bigger than greyhound racing. One recent example is the July 6 article in your newspaper titled Petition would add pigs to Constitution. These animal rights extremists are actively working against everything from the consumption of meat and milk to the use of animals in medical research to save human lives. The abolition of greyhound racing is just one small step on that slippery slope.

The fact is that greyhounds couldn't perform the way they do on the track if they weren't fed well, exercised regularly and treated humanely. It's common knowledge that neglected or abused animals seldom make good pets. In contrast, greyhounds make wonderful, loving and gentle pets, precisely because of the excellent care and handling they have received.

Don't be misled by animals rights propaganda. The next time someone feeds you misinformation about greyhound racing or any other animal activity, ask for independent, verifiable proof of their claims. The silence will be deafening.

Charles C. Marriott, president, National Greyhound

Association, Abilene, Kan.

Charmed by column

I am the 85-year-old, retired, white registrar of a Miami comprehensive high school, which I helped open in 1956. Its enrollment of 1,600 quickly grew to 4,000, and it is recognized as one of the top high schools in state. The staff was integrated (principal's choice, not mandated) from the beginning. The student body integrated, but not speedily. (The school's location in the most western section made transportation difficult.) It was a job that I loved at school that I loved, where I worked until ill health forced retirement. This history is related as background to my reaction to Elijah Gosier's column of July 10, which prompts this letter to you.

I wrote four years ago to thank you for a particular column. There have been others since that I thought deserved recognition of excellence, but I haven't managed it.

Then the July 10 paper brought Gosier's Reunion reveals what made them more likely to succeed, and my delight in it was enough to provide the impetus that got me to the typewriter. I was absolutely charmed with that delightful article, and I am requiring myself to try to convey to you my enthusiasm for and appreciation of it. An idiot's grin spreads across my face from ear to ear as I read it even after multiple rereadings.

There is only one negative aspect _ he makes me sad that I have not been able to go back to that school that I loved for even one reunion, and now must accept that I never will. But that facet is insignificant compared to the pleasure he has given me, and for which I again want to offer you my profound gratitude for having him on your staff and for providing him the space. Please let him know of my appreciation and delight in his splendid column from which I have gotten so much vicarious joy.

Thank you, St. Petersburg Times, and thank you, Elijah Gosier. Reunion . . . was wonderful!

Louesa M. Willett, Tampa

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